Senators push EPA watchdog on mine spill

Senators push EPA watchdog on mine spill
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A bipartisan group of Western senators are asking the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) inspector general to consider a litany of aspects of this month’s toxic waste spill in Colorado. 

The senators, led by Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerInviting Kim Jong Un to Washington Dems face tough vote on Green New Deal The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump escalates fight with NY Times MORE (R-Colo.), said they want the inspector general to probe everything from the work EPA contractors were doing in the Gold King Mine before the Aug. 5 spill to the safeguards the agency put in place to prevent other spills in the future.

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In a letter sent Wednesday to the EPA's inspector general, the senators acknowledged that the agency has taken responsibility for the incident. But they said the inspector general report will “assist in determining the details of the accident, provide a better opportunity to improve future remediation projects and prevent spills of this nature at other legacy mines across the West.” 

Lawmakers included a list of 13 questions they had about the incident, including the expertise of contractors inspecting the Gold King Mine and the agency’s legal requirements for responding to it and coordinating with local communities. 

“Including these questions in an [inspector general] report, along with a full investigation of the Gold King Mine accident, will help prevent future spills of this magnitude and ensure that recovery for tribal, state and local economies is expeditiously put on the best path forward,” the letter said. 

The EPA inspector general said Monday that it was launching an investigation into the spill, which sent 3 million gallons of toxic sludge in the Animas River. Lawmakers have promised to probe the incident on their own when they return to Washington next month.

Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) also signed Gardner’s letter.